Thursday, November 20, 2003

BUNCH OF MAD AFGHANS: Maybe Sullivan is right. Maybe liberation did work in Afghanistan. Just read this Washington Post article on the murder of French U.N. worker Bettina Goislard and, especially, the reaction to it.

(And again, compare and contrast the Times and Post pieces. The Post outdoes the Times as it has been doing for, well, a long time ago. The Post, though, still has the always reliable Pamela Constable in Afghanistan.)

[Goislard's] slaying unleashed a wave of highly emotional and even violent reactions by people in Ghazni, according to Afghan and U.N. officials. Bystanders and shopkeepers leaped on her assailants and tried to beat them to death, officials said. Police intervened, but one attacker had to be hospitalized.

Over the next 48 hours, the officials said, angry residents tried to burn down the houses of the assailants, who were quickly identified, and a mob surrounded the jail where they were being held, demanding that they be summarily executed in public. Meanwhile, a caravan of 80 vehicles spontaneously followed officials carrying Goislard's body to Kabul.

Afghan officials said that President Hamid Karzai personally intervened to deter the violence, repeatedly telephoning Ghazni officials and insisting that the attackers be protected from mob revenge and brought to formal justice. "As the news spread, crowds gathered. They wanted the two men, and they wanted their families banished from the area," said Jawad Luddin, Karzai's chief spokesman. "The president spoke with the governor and told him not to allow it. Justice has to be served in the proper legal manner."

On the other hand, Luddin said, the public outrage over Goislard's slaying "shows there is a very clear difference between the terrorists and the people." The convoy that followed the aid worker's body to Kabul, he said, was a "significant gesture of solidarity," especially because it occurred during an evening in Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of fasting.

[...]"The people beat them a lot. They wanted to burn their houses, and then they had a big demonstration and they wanted us to kill the prisoners right away," he said. "I agreed with them, because this was a very big crime and we have our tribal laws in Afghanistan. But the president called me many times and ordered that they have to go to trial. That's why they are still alive."
Goislard has been buried in a British embassy in Kabul, the AP reports. Reuters has pictures.

Anyhow, Sullivan is wrong on one poll he links to. He rightly claims that 83% think they are better off, but
The aid groups stressed the survey does not necessarily represent the views of all Afghans, because security concerns prevented them from getting the opinions of those living in the most dangerous areas. But they said the responses showed progress is being made in areas where security has been improved.

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